Name: Madeline Elias
Title: Tax Office Managing Partner
Company: BDO USA, LLP
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
Number of Employees: 2,968
Education: BBA and MBA, University of Miami, Coral Gables
What I’m Reading: SWITCH: How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip Heath
My Philosophy: There are no boundaries or limits to what you can accomplish—only those you set yourself.
Away from Work, I: Enjoy spending time with my husband and two kids. We are active boaters, travelers, and football fans.
How My Heritage Values Have Supported My Success: Family values and hard work are at the root of my Cuban heritage. My family left the communist environment of Cuba with nothing to come to America and build a better life for our family and future generations. My parents started from the bottom, not even knowing the language, but were able to grow and triumph. They did this by putting aside their pride and working together, supporting each other, accepting change and working hard. Their example has truly shaped who I am today—particularly my belief that anything is possible through hard work and perseverance. I value the collaborative nature of working together for the betterment of the entire group or organization, both in the short and long term. These values have translated into a very prosperous career. Because of my values, the great people I’ve been blessed to work with have helped provide many opportunities for quick advancement. I have also built strong, lasting professional relationships to lean on and get support when needed.
How My Company Supports Me…and How I Pay it Forward: BDO has great values as an organization. One of its core values, People First, provides the framework for creating true partnerships—both within the organization and with clients – for the good of all involved. BDO is dedicated to providing the best person for the job, and this means the firm is always willing to invest time to train and mentor its people. The firm has established active mentoring programs, as well as a women’s initiative, that provide the space to share ideas and identify role models within the firm. I am an active participant in these firm programs and initiatives, and I also serve in other mentoring programs through local universities and charitable organizations. I believe it’s critical to share my personal and professional experiences – good and bad – with younger generations so they can be better prepared for the future. Living in Miami, Fla. allows me an opportunity to mentor many Hispanic professionals in particular. I believe I gain as much insight from hearing these professionals’ experiences and perspectives as they gain from hearing mine.
The Best Advice I Received and the Advice I Offer Others: When I was just beginning my career, a mentor told me that to advance, you have to prove you can do the job first. I took this advice to heart and have always been committed to putting in the extra time and work to grow in the direction of my career aspirations—even if it didn’t always result in immediate rewards. My advice to someone looking to advance in his/her career is not to fear change, but embrace it. I believe change not only lets you look at things in a different perspective, but it also allows you to learn new skills and work with different people. Most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to grow and step up by taking on new challenges and/or positions that will prove useful as you develop in your career. Never set any boundaries yourself, whether you fear that you might ‘not being fully ready’ for the position or it’s a position not normally held by a woman, Hispanic or other minority group. If you are motivated and willing to work hard, you can accomplish any goal or mission you set for yourself. Surround yourself with people who share your values and the necessary support will always be there.